After Trump was blamed for the Republicans’ midterm wipeout in Colorado earlier this month, multiple leading Republicans gushed on public platforms about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who championed Florida’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which is seen by advocates as a clear attack on LGBTQ rights.
Speaking on conservative radio the morning after this month’s election, state Sen. Paul Lundeen (R-Monument), who’s the new Republican leader of the state Senate, said the Republican brand is in “disarray,” and DeSantis represents “the emerging Republican brand.”
The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which was condemned by multiple Florida businesses, including Disney, bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public K-3 classrooms. Before it was passed, LGBTQ advocates warned that it was vague enough to potentially apply to all public schools — which turned out to be the case. When the Florida law was rolled out in late June, multiple schools in the state reportedly warned some teachers to remove photos of their same-sex spouses from their desk and flag course material which referenced LGBTQ identities. The bill has since become a template for similar anti-LGBTQ legislation in other states.
On the radio, Lundeen dodged a question about Trump being responsible for Republican woes, and instead praised DeSantis for his overwhelming election victory.
“Ron DeSantis spoke to and promoted and was very specific about the issues that Republicans care about,” Lundeen told KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky Nov. 9. “They care about affordability of life. They care about freedom from government intrusion into their life. They care about being safer in their neighborhoods and their communities. And they care, quite frankly, about having greater authority over their child’s education. So that’s the brand that Ron DeSantis ran on and won four years ago on — and won in a much bigger fashion last night. And I think that is the emerging Republican brand. Going back to the question of brand, I would like to think that we’re going because that’s what we campaigned on, and it didn’t stick.”
Likewise, Republican pundit Dick Wadhams wrote in Colorado Politics Nov. 13 that if DeSantis runs in 2024, “Colorado might be in play.”
“But the Democrats could actually nominate the doddering Joe Biden for another term or the hapless Vice President Kamala Harris,” wrote Wadhams lovingly. “Republicans might have the foresight to offer a younger, dynamic candidate with a record of electoral success such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was re-elected this week by a 20-point margin.”
DeSantis boosters in Colorado do not talk about his potential liabilities in a blue state, like his anti-LGBTQ law.
In fact, DeSantis’ positions on multiple issues could leave him vulnerable to the same successful attacks Democrats used against Republicans in Colorado’s midterm election.
For example, DeSantis signed a bill into law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. While other Republicans have called for him to restrict abortion rights even further since the fall of Roe v. Wade, he has avoided answering whether he would actually do so.
Colorado’s GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, also had a limited pro-choice stance, which Democrats exploited and some Republicans, like KHOW host Dan Caplis, denounced. O’Dea’s abortion stance led Caplis to refuse to vote for O’Dea.
Yet, on a recent radio show, Caplis swooned over DeSantis.
“Florida is the model, for Colorado and everywhere else,” said Caplis Nov. 9 on KHOW.
“Ron DeSantis is a fighter,” said Caplis on air, saying DeSantis is “more effective” than Trump “at this point.”
“I don’t think you could find a bigger fan of DeSantis than me,” Caplis told his radio audience, calling him a “gift to this country.”
DeSantis has largely kept quiet about his opinions on the 2020 election and has rejected calls for a forensic audit in Florida (a state which Trump won in 2020).
However, during the 2022 election cycle, he frequently campaigned for election deniers in other states, such as Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Kari Lake in Arizona.
As Governor, DeSantis has taken action on some environmental issues, including signing a bill this year which dedicated $640 million towards preparing Florida communities for rising sea levels.
But while he does not disregard climate change, he has been staunch in his position: “We’re not doing any left-wing stuff.” Accordingly, while he has worked to mitigate the effects of climate change, he has done little, if anything, to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it.